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Innovation Is Rooted In Discontent: Nokia Has Evolved Over 125 Years

To grownearly 10 times in 10 years is impressive, but not entirely unheard of. Startwith a sufficiently low base or launch an acquisition campaign and almostanyone can do it. Indeed, I’ve bumped into several companies that have. But to drivesuch growth when you are already collecting billions in revenue – and to do itorganically without major acquisitions – is something different, something remarkable.Almost no company has done it. But Nokia has.

To grownearly 10 times in 10 years is impressive, but not entirely unheard of. Startwith a sufficiently low base or launch an acquisition campaign and almostanyone can do it. Indeed, I’ve bumped into several companies that have.

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But to drivesuch growth when you are already collecting billions in revenue – and to do itorganically without major acquisitions – is something different, something remarkable.Almost no company has done it. But Nokia has.

I got achance to sit down with Taneli Ruda, one of Nokia’s top strategists. Tanelihelps maintain Nokia’s strategic agenda and leads a team charged with ensuringNokia’s strategic plans align with the company’s overall priorities. He gave apeek into how Nokia has unlocked such breakneck innovation and consistently outmaneuveredthe competition.

Be ahead of the curve

The easyanswer to Nokia’s growth is that the company successfully identified the nextbattleground. There was a time when Nokia made tires, produced rubber, ownedforests, and fabricated paper goods. It had, over its hundred or so years ofevolution, become an unfocused conglomerate.

This unalignedstrategy eventually caught up with the Finnish firm. The company’s financialfoundation weakened severely, and its CEO committed suicide.  

Greatinnovations’ blooms are always rooted in deep discontent. And so Nokia’stroubles laid the foundation for real change.

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The companyrealized it could not survive covering so many battlegrounds, so it felt forcedto look for the next one. It recognized that the deregulation and privatizationof Europe’s telecom market would create a major opportunity, so it shed itsrubber plants and paper mills and invested with focused determination ontelecommunications.

The bet paidoff. Mobile phones have grown faster and for longer than most experts imagined.And Nokia, being one of the first with a determinate stake in that ground, hasgrown with it.

Taneli said,“If you really want to get to hyper growth, then you need to be ahead of thecurve for identifying trends.”

This is pattern #22: move early tothe next battleground.

Over 30percent of the most competitive companies of the decade triggered theirbreakthroughs in part with this same pattern. We all know we should be thinkingabout the next battleground, but rarely take a pause to truly consider it.

So stop now and ask yourself:forgetting your current battle, where is the next battleground and whatcan you do today to begin positioning yourself there?

About the author

Author of Outthink the Competition business strategy keynote speaker and CEO of Outthinker, a strategic innovation firm, Kaihan Krippendorff teaches executives, managers and business owners how to seize opportunities others ignore, unlock innovation, and build strategic thinking skills. Companies such as Microsoft, Citigroup, and Johnson & Johnson have successfully implemented Kaihan’s approach because their executive leadership sees the value of his innovative technique.

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